The Drooling Class
If you ever doubted that the country was in the hands of some very stupid and corrupt people, this week should have thoroughly disabused you of that fantasy. In one fell swoop, the administration left billions of dollars of military equipment in the hands of the barbarous anti-American Taliban; broke the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance by bugging out without warning to its members who were in Afghanistan in support of our mission there; left as many as 50,000 Americans and tens of thousands more of our Afghan allies to the not so tender mercies of the enemy; and on Friday Biden lied about it all.
It’s not that most of us wanted this Afghan Mission Impossible to continue forever. It’s just that there’s a right way to do it. President Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a well-conceived plan. It included preconditions on the Taliban and the removal of all U.S. military equipment and civilians before any group withdrawal. The administration in its wisdom did it backward: troops first, civilians left to their own devices (we’re even charging those who make it through the Taliban blockade around the one remaining airport $2,000 a head to be evacuated), abandoning Bagram’s well-fortified and equipped airbase, and an incredible array of military equipment for the taking, a taking that makes the entire world very unsafe.
Scores of videos have emerged of Taliban fighters rejoicing near abandoned American helicopters, carrying U.S.-supplied M24 sniper rifles and M18 assault weapons, stacking other small arms and materiel in unending piles and driving Humvees and other U.S.-made military trucks.
The Taliban have seized airplanes, tanks and artillery from Afghan outposts and from evacuating U.S. personnel, revealing one of the heavier costs of a U.S. troop withdrawal amid a collapse of Afghanistan’s government and army.
We often are critical of CNN and with good reason, but this week its chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward has been doing the most incredible coverage from Kabul. Every second she’s on the air from Kabul she puts paid to the administration’s fantastical accounts.
The British Parliament (both houses of it) condemned Biden in special sessions. Why wouldn’t they? Albert Nardelli of Bloomberg explained that Biden had explicitly told key allies that we’d maintain enough of a security presence after the main troop withdrawal so they could continue embassy operations in Kabul. We did not, leaving diplomatic personnel there unprotected and NATO nation civilians at great risk. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried repeatedly to discuss this by phone with Biden who did not take the calls. We, in one ill-considered move, betrayed the Afghans who worked with us and the allies who are fighting alongside us there.
The last reports I saw say British and French special operation outfits have been transported to Kabul to aid in getting their nationals to the airport for evacuation. When they can, they are also aiding Americans trapped in this mess. Our troops are confined to the airport and apparently not happy that our allies are doing the job which should be done by them:
I understand that the commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division has told the commander of the British special forces at the Kabul airport to cease operations beyond the airport perimeter.
Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue has told his British Army counterpart, a high-ranking field-grade officer of the British army's 22nd Special Air Service Regiment, that British operations were embarrassing the United States military in the absence of similar U.S. military operations. I understand that the British officer firmly rejected the request.[snip]I understand that the SAS has conducted operations to bring American citizens, as well as British citizens and at-risk personnel, through checkpoints and to the airport. This is not an indictment on U.S. capabilities or special operations intent, but rather, it's a reflection of political-military authorities. In part, this difference is understandable. Large-scale U.S. military operations beyond the Kabul airport perimeter would entail significant risk absent prior Taliban approval. But there is a sense, at least by allies, that the U.S. military could be doing more to leverage the Taliban into providing greater ease of access to the airport for those most at risk.
CNN chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward said Friday while reporting from the Kabul airport that despite promises from President Joe Biden of a full evacuation, during a period of eight hours, she did not see any U.S. flights evacuate people.
Ward said, “I’m sitting here, for 12 hours in the airport, eight hours on the airfield, and I haven’t seen a single U.S. plane take off. How on earth are you going to evacuate 50,000 people in the next two weeks. It just, it can’t happen.”
A bureaucratic tug of war between the State Department, Pentagon, and White House is also disrupting evacuation operations out of Kabul. This is aggravating British, French, and other Kabul-present military authorities. I understand that these governments have been further aggravated by the failure of the White House and Pentagon to communicate adequately, or in some cases, to communicate at all, on their intentions and actions. All these allies admit, however, that only the U.S. military could provide the airfield defense and air traffic control capabilities now on display.
The claim that the rapid Taliban advance which the administration had assumed falsely would take 90 days was unexpected, is also nonsense. The tangled lines of communication and the diffusion into a Babel of authorization to act is the key, not the rapid Taliban movement.
Officials on the ground had warned on July 13 that Kabul would collapse soon, that the Taliban’s “advance was imminent “ and the Afghan military unlikely to stop it.
In the meantime, the advance, as you certainly would expect, was accompanied by targeted killings, atrocities, and Afghani flights to the exits. (Both Greece and Turkey are fortifying their borders to prevent an onrushing torrent of Afghan asylum seekers.) We have apparently distributed visa forms for anyone in Afghanistan and are transporting those who make it through the Taliban phalanx at the airport, but with records of those who helped us being destroyed by our embassy officials and by the document holders themselves for protection who knows who we are taking in? Afghan history and culture give me every reason to believe that the reason the Taliban has given us a hard deadline to get our civilians out of there at the same time they are making the exits impossible, presage horrid mass murders of those stuck there or a dreadful hostage situation involving tens of thousands of Americans.
After hiding out at Camp David, providing only a video of him sitting alone at a huge conference table in front of a telescreen which seems to have been made in February (given the erroneous time shown on the telescreen), Biden finally showed up briefly on Friday in the Capitol an hour late to read a statement and respond to a handful of questions, clearly handed up in advance by the reporters he called on. Even this song and dance was a joke. He stumbled and lied throughout.
How bad was Biden’s misinformation to the American public? Dreadful. The best assessment comes from Jennifer Griffin, a very experienced Pentagon reporter who spent years in Afghanistan. She said couldn’t [sic] fact-check the misstatements fast enough in real time. There were just so many falsehoods. She’s a thorough-going professional, but you could see her genuine anger burning through as she said that.
Former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker -- in the pithy way my native state speakers communicate -- said it well:
If Joe Biden knew, he should be impeached.
If he wasn’t told, the Secretary of State should be fired.
If he doesn’t remember, they should invoke the 25th amendment.
It’s not just Biden. To look at his team of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Chief of Staff General Mark Milley is to understand Shel Silverstein’s “the lights are on, but nobody’s home.”
Biden announced on Friday that he would return to Delaware. He said he needed to because he "wasn’t sleeping well." I’ll bet he isn’t. On Saturday, he was apparently overruled and remained in the Capitol. For how long, even he probably doesn't know. The lid seems indefinite.
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Correction: An early version of this article misidentified Mike Pompeo as Secretary of Defense. We have corrected the error.